Another Delicious Pizza!

Mmm… is there anything better than homemade pizza fresh out of the oven?  Pizza is easy to make, the toppings are fun to experiment with, and the results are tasty and rewarding.  For me, the one problem with pizza is that I only like to use Trader Joe’s fresh pizza dough which means that I can only make pizza once or twice a month after we visit TJ’s.  We used to live within walking distance of a Trader Joe’s but now a 20 minute drive (and bad rush hour traffic!) separates us from my favorite dough.  I have tried the pizza dough from Whole Foods and, although it isn’t bad, it simply can’t compare with the crispy, chewy flavor of the dough from Joe’s.

So, as you might have guessed, we stopped by Trader Joe’s over the weekend and I picked up a bag of dough.  We already had some hot Italian turkey sausage and basil so I decided to make a Sausage Tomato Basil Mozzarella (TBM) pizza for dinner last night.

A note about the cheese… TJ’s was sold out of the marinated mozzarella balls that I typically buy so I tried their Ciliegine mozzarella which is billed as stringier, softer, and more authentic.  More authentic it may be but it also was much more watery and seemed to melt into nothingness on these pizzas.  Next time I’ll hold out for the good mozzarella!

Turkey Sausage T.B.M. Pizza

You will need…
2 Turkey Sausages (we used Shady Brook Farms Hot Italian Turkey Sausage)
1 12 oz. can Diced Tomatoes with Italian Herbs
1 package Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough
Pepper, Parmesan Cheese and Garlic Powder to taste
Approx. 10 Mozzarella Balls (I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Marinated Mozzarella Balls, but for this recipe I used TJ’s Ciliegine Mozzarella Balls)
10-20 Basil Leaves, cut into strips

Crumble and brown the turkey sausage in a large frying pan or wok.  When the sausage is nicely browned, remove it from heat and set aside.  Drain the diced tomatoes slightly and then saute over medium heat for 10-15 minutes to reduce.  If you want a smoother tomato base, use a potato masher to slightly crush the tomato chunks.  Meanwhile, stretch out your pizza dough into two rectangular pies on a large cookie sheet (see my Homemade TBM Pizza for instructions on how to do this).

Spoon and spread the reduced diced tomatoes evenly onto the two pizza pies.  Sprinkle the browned sausage over the pizza and top with ground black pepper, Parmesan, and garlic powder.  Next, distribute the mozzarella balls evenly over the pizza.  I like to use a pair of kitchen shears to cut each mozzarella ball into several pieces — this helps to cover the pizza evenly without using an entire container of cheese!  🙂

Bake pizzas in a preheated 350° oven for 12 minutes.  Remove the pizzas from the oven and top with your sliced basil.  Enjoy!

Pizza with Pesto, Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, & Mozzarella

Individual-sized pizzas are one of my favorite things to make.  I always use Trader Joe’s fresh pizza dough as my base and then I have fun experimenting with different toppings.  You can take just about any ingredients that you’d put together on a sandwich or pasta dish and put them on a pizza for a delicious dinner.  I’m sure that I’ll end up writing about some of the interesting combinations but for today I’m going to describe how to make a pizza featuring the classic combo of tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

Homemade Pizza with Pesto, Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, and Mozzarella
Pizza with Pesto, Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, and Mozzarella
(makes two generous individual-sized pizzas)

You will need…
1 package of Trader Joe’s fresh pizza dough (a bag with a ball of dough in it, not the pre-cooked stuff)
4 heaping tablespoons of pesto
2 teaspoons (approx.) Grated Parmesan/Romano Cheese
15 oz. can of Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained (or normal tomatoes if you prefer)
12 Marinaded Mozzarella Balls (also from TJ’s; each ball is approx. 1″ in diameter)
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to Taste

All ready to go into the oven

Preheat your oven to 425°.  Allow the pizza dough to sit out at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.  After it has warmed up, remove the pizza dough from the bag and split it into two balls.  If you want, you can lightly dust your hands and/or work surface with flour when working with the dough if you want to but it’s not a necessity.  Flatten one of the dough balls between your palms and then start to slowly stretch the dough out by squeezing the outside edges evenly.  Wehn you get the dough stretched out the size and shape that you like, place it onto a cookie sheet.  My cookie sheet has a non-stick surface so I don’t grease it at all — you may need to lightly grease a pan that doesn’t have a non-stick surface.  Repeat the stretching procedure with the other dough ball.

Hurray!  The hard part is over and now you get the fun of putting toppings on your pizzas.  Scoop two heaping spoonfuls of pesto onto each pizza and spread the pesto out with the back of the spoon.  Next, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese (about 1 teaspoon per pizza, or more if you want!) over the pesto topping.  Spoon the drained tomatoes onto each pizza and spread them out.  Slice up the 12 mozzarella balls and divide evenly between the pizzas.  Lightly dust the top of the pizza with garlic powder and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pizzas in an oven at 425° for 12-15 minutes.  The pizzas are ready when the cheese has melted and the crust is starting to brown.  Enjoy!